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Considering building a new home

If you are considering building a new home this year – this is a must-read!

Buildings should be designed to use energy efficiently, and to cope with the stresses arising from a changing climate.

Buildings are indirectly responsible for around 20% of New Zealand’s energy-related greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to climate change. These emissions mostly come from using fossil fuels for heating and cooking and generating electricity for appliances and space and water heating, cooling and ventilation.

Scientists expect New Zealand’s climate to change during the rest of this century, though the impacts will vary from place to place. Changing rainfall, wind, temperature, storm and other climatic patterns will all influence building design – for example, by requiring buildings in some parts of the country to cope with stronger wind loads or more intense rainfall.

Buildings should be designed to minimise greenhouse gas emissions from energy use. Most importantly, passive design features can help to reduce energy use for heating, cooling, lighting and other activities. Over the life of a building, small gains in efficiency can add up to significant reductions in emissions.

It is not just design of new buildings that needs to be considered. Most of the buildings that will be standing in 2050 already exist, so improving the energy efficiency of the current building stock is important.

Solar radiation and UV intensity
UV intensity is expected to increase until 2015 and later gradually decrease by about 6–7% by 2030 and be 10% lower than current levels by 2070. UV radiation is currently a major cause of polymer degradation (for example, plastic, rubber, wood lignin).

The effects of climate change on solar radiation through changes in cloud levels or sunshine hours are uncertain. – Read more

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